Built to Spill has always taken their time with making music. Its been three years since You in Reverse kicked things back up a notch, growing the band out of their old alt-rock shoes. A little old, and a little new, There is No Enemy continues the trend from 2006 making Built to Spills latest record a perfect fan favorite. With that, Doug Martsch and co. continues to make some of the most genuine rock of our time.
Its been a long road since 92s scratchy and naive introduction to Boise rock, and now as the band nears the end of their second decade, the age is showing. Not in a bad, over the hill way, but more in a comfortable maturity. They know exactly what they are looking to write, and it shows. The music is something both band and fans can be proud of.
There is No Enemy is unabashedly them with tracks that expand on their past work, adding hints of western twang when right, and stepping up the guitar and rhythm work. The songs are long, thought out, and whole. By the end of each you feel complete, like nothing more could be added, and really isnt that how a song should be?
Now there is also an interesting paradox in their song writing. On the one hand its consistency is something to revel in. You know exactly what you will be getting by this point in the game, but what that does is leave little room for dramatic growth as we saw in the pre/into Warner Brothers years. Yet again, their growing period might have past with their youth, and they have settled in a way, working to refine their style, in a way writing the records they always meant to.
While cohesive in its presentation, the tracks are all over the place in influence. Each era of writing is covered, and even a strong nod to Martschs pre-Spill band Treepeople is hit with the power chord charge of Pat. Its almost startling, like an alarm clock after the previous reverberated daze of Oh Yeah. So much so that you would have to check your calendar, as they havent hit a note that heavy in quite some time. But thats just how the record goes. It starts where they left off three years ago, then takes you on a nostalgic trip through the bands past. Its as if you were aloud to relive your senior year, but with all the experience you have now.
Planting Seeds and album opener Aisle 13 are more Keep it Like a Secret era with its pop sensibility, but with stronger leg work in the guitars this time. On the mellow side, Hindsight adds a little alt country for a track all about escaping to the great white north. The sleepy trend continues with Nowhere Lullaby letting more of Martsch’s signature melancholy with smooth guitar slides swooning you through.
Big, end of movie type rock anthems are well represented with Good Ol Boredom, and record closer Tomorrow. The later shows off their ability to write a multi-structured song, one that moves from ballad to sonic rocker and back again, all while taking the necessary sweet time in the transitions. Its the longest track for the record, but with all the places it goes, it keeps your ears glued to your ear buds (or whatever you have on). But thats always been something that this band has made look easy. Remember the jam-heavy Perfect from Now On? That was an entire album of traveling alt rock jams. Its a masterful technique, and these guys have made a career out of making it look easy.
The final product is solid through and through. As with all their music, its about the record as whole, not just the singles. Enemy is just another part to a nearly flawless catalogue, a record with a never-ending shelf life, and after ten years in the back of the pantry, youll still want to eat it up.
“Things Fall Apart”
There Is No Enemy
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